Sunday, 19 October 2014

Expansion and Erudition

The shaman stood inside the stone circle and chanted. Here on the sacred plains of his people, and in the ways of his forefathers he summoned the sun from it's resting place. His chants were supported by the small choir of women who were placed around the small stone circle. According to legend, the songs of the shaman commanded, and the songs of the women beckoned. Either way, usually, and at the approriate time, the sun rose lazily over the horizon. As it did today. Today however, the sun brought something new, and from his place by the altar in the centre of the stone circle, he noticed the black spec that was above the sun and the sound of the winds, yet no wind blew. It was, he though excitedly, a sign from the great sun god!

The Brotherhood troop carrier descended quickly and roared through the early morning sky. In the troop compartment hundreds of soldiers went through the routine of final checking their equipment. Sisters walked amongst them, offering benedictions, prayers and blessing their armour and weapons. Up in the cockpit the pilots flew nape of the earth towards their destination, the sun behind them. From her seat the Inquisitor Carmilla D'morenta watched with interest on the various monitors as they flew over plains and rivers and fields. So the rumours were true, there was indiginous life here. So much the better for them, and for us. Looking on the forward monitor she saw the stone circle in the distance and slapped the arm of the pilot and pointed.
"Land there."
"But Inquisitor, that is not our landing site."
"Land.... there."
"Yes, Inquistitor."
The pilot flipped a switch and informed the soldiers to prepare for landing. They brought the troop carrier around in a lazy arc and landed not far from the circle. Already the ships in orbit were asking for clarification on the landing spot. Carmilla ignored them for the moment and unbuckled herself, pulling her habit on properly and checking her weapons.
"Inform the other ships that this is where the outpost will be constructed. Send them the appropriate landing configuration, we will check the area."
The pilot acknowledged and lowered the ramps.

The women watching the troop carrier fled as it landed and disgorged people. They ran straight to their village and left the shaman. He stood watching enraptured as the sign from God sat there like a great hunched beetle. The people who had come off the ship dispersed in all directions and some were coming this way. He took his staff of leadership and walked towards them.
"Brothers! I greet you in the name of...."

The Inquisitor at the head of her personal squad of zealous warriors walked towards the stone circle and saw the man coming towards them. His staff was raised, and he spoke in a language they did not understand. They circled him and two went to scout the circle and Carmilla pushed her way through. She looked him up and down, clad in a long robe with strings of beads and other jewelry around him, and stylized icons of the sun.
"Do you understand me? You, savage?"
He looked at her strangely and spoke, neither could understand the words. He tapped the symbol on his chest and pointed at the sun, then at himself.
"I think he is some sort of holy man."
"Yes, looks like some sort of solar god. Can we convert them to the true faith?"
"Tricky if they can't speak a civilised language."
She mused this and walked into the stone circle, touching the walls and the masonry. It was old, very old, but repaired and painted, plastered over in places. The man walked over to the altar and watched them closely. He pulled out from under a basket full of food and laid it on the surface and gestured to it. One of the zealots ran a scanner over it and nodded.
"The food seems edible, no obvious contaminants. And this seems to be a narcotic of some description."
"So we have food, trade goods and judging from this and the jewels there is plenty to keep us. Have they found his village yet?"
"The scouts have found several, from the look of them all are at the same level of technology. We will have no problems here."
Carmilla lifted up her habit and pulled out her knife and started tapping the stones where the new repairs had been made. She scratched the paint aside and the man shouted at her and shook his head and walked over to her pushing her back and standing infront of the stone.

He looked at her with amazement! How dare they try and desecrate the temple of the sun, what were they? Heathens? Were they so uneducated as to not know what....

Her backhand when it came knocked him to the floor. Two Zealots moved in and stood on his arms, keeping him down.
"How dare you strike an Inquisitor of the True One! Are you a heathen? Do you not know the penalty for doing that?"
He shouted back at her, and she shouted at him. Both angry and defiant in the names of their own gods, both learning much and understanding too little... too late. On the outskirts of the temple, hidden in the undergrowth the local warriors had seen their Shaman, and the leader of their people struck down. What they did came naturally to them. They attacked. And their attack sealed their doom.

Carmilla watched as her troops pulled back to a defensive position and the fighting started, row after row of the savages were torn apart, but they kept coming. The man at her feet was chanting now, irritating her. She pulled out her pistol and shot him without looking.
"Cleanse the area, every village for five miles. If you think they can be converted to worship the True One bring them back. If not, kill them all."
She reached down and took the stylised sun from his chest and crushed it over him.
"One day.... someone will do that to you...."
"So... you can understand. Those who came before us said you could."
"We will be... avenged...."
"But not today."
She shot him again, between the eyes.
"Burn all the bodies. Any signs of religious buildings I want them torn down, any who complain I want them shot. This is my world now. Bring down the other ships, it's time to start building a real future for these savages."

The great haulers landed in the places asigned to them and one of Carmilla's girls came over. She was wearing combat gear, but had kept her headdress. Looking around she could see the plumes of smoke from the burning villages.
"Had some trouble Carm?"
"Not really. Ready to start building?"
"Oh yes, shouldn't take too long to get the basics done, and my explorers who are still on planet have locations of interesting things to exploit. There will be a full report for you within the week."
"Good. Make sure this stone circle is used in the construction."
"As a centre for the outpost?"
"If you wish, or as foundation rubble. I'll leave it to your artistic temprament."
"Oh, that reminds me. That small order of nuns you sent to Solo? To the flagritz station?"
She racked her brains for a moment then smiled.
"The Martyrs of the Holy Sepulchre? How are they doing?"
"They uh... want you to call them. Apparently it's urgent?"

Carmilla sat on the top of the altar and pulled out a communicator. Running the signal through the troop carrier she managed to raise the ground party.
"Aah, Inquisitor D'morenta. We are so glad you called. We had some trouble finding you."
"I'm setting up an outpost, the expansion must go on. What have you learnt about the Flagritz?"
There was a sound in the background of the communicator, a heavy banging sound. The nun seemed unphased by it.
"Well most of what we found out was as expected. We found three classes, a heavily xenophobic one, the warrior caste and the peace caste. Only the traders or peace caste would talk to us."
There was another sound in the background, a heavy repeater being fired.
"Sister, what is going on back there? It sounds like you are shooting something."
"Well.... some of the Xenophoics took exception to us and got some of the warrior caste to try and throw us out of the starport."
"Where are you?"
"In our APC. They can't get in without using something heavy and we think they won't do that because it will start hostilities. And we can't get out as they've broken the latch on the door."
"And the heavy repeater?"
"Oh, they just took out out wheels."
"Sister, I'm not happy about this. I'm sending someone down to take over."
"But we can...."
"Enough! I dont' want to get into a shooting war with the Flagritz, heaven alone knows what Pyros will say when he finds out what we're doing there. It took a long time to get access, don't screw it up by killing any flagritz."
"By the sacred tomes, but what is they eat us?"
"Then pray they don't choke on you and die! D'morenta out."

She threw the communicator at the nearest stone circle and kicked her heels on the altar looking at the blood stain on the floor. Some days, she thought, it would be nice not to have to kill anyone before breakfast.

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